This article addresses the issue of professionalization in the life sciences during the second half of the nineteenth century through a survey of British entomological periodicals. It is generally accepted that this period saw the rise of professional practitioners and the emergence of biology (as opposed to the older mode of natural history). However, recent scholarship has increasingly shown that this narrative elides the more complex processes at work in shaping scientific communities from the 1850s to the turn of the century. This article adds to such scholarship by examining the ways in which the editors of four entomological periodicals from across this time frame attempted to shape the communities of their readership, and in particular focuses upon the apparent divide between ‘mere collectors’ and ‘entomologists’ as expressed within these journals. Crucially, the article argues that non-professional practitioners were active in defining their own distinct identities and thereby claiming scientific authority. Alongside the periodicals, the article makes use of the correspondence archive of the entomologist and periodical editor Henry Tibbats Stainton (1822–1892), which has hitherto not been subject to sustained analysis by historians.
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